Workplace injuries can cost companies millions in compensation and lost productivity. Creating a culture of accountability is a simple and consistent way to improve safety outcomes.

WSU contracted with Tom Esch to develop a video for the Benike Construction team to bring to light the importance of developing effective communication habits and the necessary awareness that makes giving and receiving feedback more likely.

Esch shared, “Long-term commitment to safety accountability generates solutions that will, in time, lead to breakthroughs in the way people communicate and act on the job site. It starts with leaders being willing to look at their own level of integrity and then finding ways to enroll everyone in being responsible for shaping a new level of accountability.”

Safety is an integral and indispensable part of Benike’s workplace culture.

Chris Lisowski, Safety Director at Benike said, “Safety starts with you. At Benike U our team members can access multiple safety trainings that directly impact their day-to-day operations. Team members are the heart and soul of Benike Construction, and it is everyone’s responsibility to maintain the safety culture. This is accomplished with communication and knowledge from the top management down to new employees.”

Mike Benike, Executive Vice President at Benike said, “During the early months of the pandemic, our workforce was affected by a dip in demand for construction. Rolling out online training opportunities with Winona State allowed us to shift some resources to building the skills of our team, versus building buildings. The investment in our team during this time will allow us to better serve our customers and their future needs.”

After viewing Esch’s video, a Benike team member shared, “Trust and a willingness to speak up begins with an organizational culture that values and demonstrates these skills regularly, and at all levels.”

Esch’s video reinforced a culture where anyone can respectfully offer feedback to anyone, in the interest of safety and healthy work culture. The long-term goals are to improve the safety record and build leadership among team members.

Julie Kiehne, WSU Business Outreach Coordinator said, “Winona State University values the partnership with Benike Construction to cultivate a safety mindset and support overall employee success in their day-to-day operations. We recognize the construction sector as a vital player which contributes greatly to the economic vitality of our region.”


Benike Construction is a fourth-generation company providing commercial construction and renovation services in southeastern Minnesota. Based in Rochester, MN, Benike has over 80 years of experience as a general contractor, construction manager, and design-build firm. Benike’s vision is a world where building leaves a positive impact.

Tom Esch is President and CEO of Esch Consulting, LLC based in St. Paul, Minnesota. Esch’s multi-faceted background, working in and for complex organizations in a wide range of settings, makes him a uniquely qualified consultant and keynote speaker. Tom works with health care companies, counties, cities, construction companies, business analysts, attorneys, executives, owners, managers, and non-profit executives to assess the cultural situation, grow interpersonal awareness and foster effective communication. He leads teams that initiate cultural change.

Adult & Continuing Education (ACE) at WSU offers a wide range of non-credit and for-credit offerings to enhance professional development. Whether through online learning, immersive classroom experiences, or hands-on training, Winona State strives to meet student needs so that they can reach their personal and professional goals.

For more information on continuing education opportunities at WSU, contact Julie Kiehne at